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story.lead_photo.caption Traffic flows Friday, May 29, 2015, along Henri de Tonti Boulevard in Tontitown near the intersection with Arkansas 112. - Photo by Andy Shupe

BENTONVILLE -- The proposed widening of Arkansas 112 to four lanes could have significant impacts on historic downtown Cave Springs and two expensive subdivisions in Bentonville, depending on the route selected, residents of the area told Arkansas Department of Transportation representatives Thursday evening.

Making Arkansas 112 a major north/south connection in coming years is part of the regional Transportation Improvement Program for Northwest Arkansas. The road envisioned would be four lanes divided by a raised median and would have sidewalks on either side. There would be breaks about every quarter mile.

Highway Department officials this week held two online input sessions with alternative routes for two sections of the road.

Thursday's meeting, which had about 200 residents participate, focused on widening Arkansas 112 between Arkansas 612/Springdale Northern Bypass and Arkansas 12 through Springdale, Cave Springs, Rogers and Bentonville. Typical input sessions in Northwest Arkansas draw a couple dozen people.

The road would generally follow the current alignment except at Cave Springs, which could see a bypass around the west side of town or a split alignment through the middle of town.

Farther north, the route would impact the St. Valery Downs and Lockmoor Club subdivisions or Chattin Valley subdivisions along with several schools.

At Cave Springs, there are two proposed alignments through downtown, one squeezing four lanes on the existing alignment would have the most impact on historic buildings and businesses. Another proposal would put two northbound lanes on the existing alignment and the two southbound lanes would roughly follow Allen Street, behind the historic buildings. Highway officials estimated 25 or 26 properties would be impacted to some degree or other, some significantly.

A third proposal, the most expensive because several bridges would be required, would bypass the city to the west traversing a largely floodplain area and crossing Osage Creek twice.

The bypass alternative, which would impact four properties, would leave Arkansas 112 south of town, near a current dirt pit and a golf course, and come back to the current alignment north of town and Arkansas 264, near Shores Avenue. West Wilson Avenue could be extended west to the bypass alternative.

Most residents grudgingly favored the bypass alternative, which would have less impact on historic buildings and businesses, over the downtown options but weren't really happy with any of the proposals.

Justin Walter, a Cave Springs business owner, said any of the proposals would destroy his property. Walter said the project would be "a complete gentrification of Cave Springs."

All of the alternatives include several roundabouts and widenings or replacement of bridges. Estimated costs range from $33 to $41 million.

Farther north, the highway could follow the existing alignment but go between St. Valery and Lockmoor, skirting the edges of both before going between the subdivisions and a lake. Several sharp corners would be straightened.

Residents pleaded Thursday for the Highway Department to look for a less populated route, away from their homes and schools.

Highway officials said six or seven homes would be impacted or have to be demolished to make room for the widening. Residents said there would be substantially more impact than that.

The cost of the proposed routes near the subdivisions would be in the range of $30 to $33 million.

The plans are preliminary and highway officials said the input sessions were needed so adjustments can be made. They stressed they aren't yet committed to any of the routes yet. An environmental assessment is underway and won' be done until next summer. Final routes would then have to be determined. Construction isn't expected until 2023 and would take two to three years to complete.

Regional planners in January 2019 agreed to move forward with a vision for Arkansas 112 as a four-lane, north/south corridor with managed access. The Arkansas Department of Transportation is ultimately responsible for doing the design and work.

The primary purpose of the improvements is to allow the road to carry significant local and regional traffic, according to the planning documents. Arkansas 112 is the only major north/south route through the metro region west of Interstate 49, which makes it critical for regional mobility as the area continues to grow, according to the document. The region's population is projected to be close to 1 million by 2045.

On either end, Bentonville and Fayetteville have already implemented raised medians, turn lanes, limited curb cuts, signal spacing and other access management strategies on portions of the road.

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In case you missed it

Thursday’s presentation was recorded and can be viewed at the Arkansas Department of Transportation website. The website also has project material and handouts shown at the in-person meeting. A separate link on the page provides a Spanish version of the presentation. There is also an option to send online comment forms to department staff. Comment forms can also be printed, filled out and mailed to Environmental Division, 10324 Interstate 30, Little Rock, Ark., 72209, until Jan. 1.

Those without internet access may contact Karla Sims at (501) 569-2000 to ask questions about the proposed project and how to access project information. Questions can be emailed to [email protected]

Source: Arkansas Department of Transportation

Ron Wood can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWARDW.

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